The first EDN Outreach took place from February 6th to 12th 2015. A representation of 7 EDN members travelled to India under the invitation of Attakkalari coinciding with the celebration of the Attakkalari India Biennial.
Attakkalari has facilitated the development of an enhanced and extensive programme including national and international platforms
Established in 1992, Attakkalari is a project formed by artists from different disciplines to help create contexts for contemporary movement arts. Attakkalari has facilitated the development of an enhanced and extensive programme including national and international platforms for Exchange and performance, strategic movement and digital arts development, research and documentation, a diploma in movement arts, and education and outreach programmes, amongs other initiatives.
As an umbrella organization, it provides dynamic leadership and makes strategic intervention to stimulate the growth of a vibrant contemporary performing arts scenes in India.
The artistic director is Jayachandran Palazhy, a sought after dancer and choreographer at the forefront of the contemporary Indian movement arts scene.
More information: attakkalari.org
A rich programme in Bangalore
The EDN delegation followed the program of the Attakkalari India Biennial and contacted with several contemporary dance professionals in the country and South Asia.
Held in Bangalore every two years since 2000, the Attakkalari India Biennial is a platform in South Asia for fresh voices in contemporary dance, digital arts and research. The nature of Bangalore’s geopolitical and cultural location makes it a strategic centre to initiate a North-South dialogue on innovation and performance arts with an international perspective.
Besides the main program, the Biennial included a showing of the works in process developed within the third edition of FACETS international choreography residency. FACETS provides a support system for young emerging choreographers in South Asia to develop new work. The project offered mentoring by an international panel of experts to 10 creators during six weeks.
The framework of the Biennial program also included the Platform 15. This program is dedicated to showcasing, discussing and engaging with the works of new voices in contemporary dance-making and movement arts coming from the south Asian region who have extended the boundaries of their craft and taken risks in their artistic practice.
A very first encounter in India
For many of the EDN members this was the first visit to Attakkalari and India. In that context, Attakkalari is one of the few curating structures, which fits to the curating partners of the association and their projects.
Some statements of the EDN members after their visit and exchange:
“We have to assume that our look is always as an outsider, limited, full of flaws and gaps. It is very complex to speak of dance in a country where it is used as a form of expression with so many variants and is so present in the ancestral culture. I think that Indian contemporary dance has a significant historical and political legacy, was strongly conditioned and, today, despite fully liberalized, remains closely attached to classical Indian dance, which comes from the training base of the dancers. This constrain does not have to be necessarily bad, and may even be “the secret” that must be preserved, which marks their identity and is what makes it so interesting”
Some EDN representatives focused on the Festival and its programming:
“Attakkalari dance festival, like any other festival, is the result of the management of many constrains. It seemed very conditioned on international institutional partnerships that are achieved by personal choices but also by aesthetic options, in very clear case particularly with regard to the Asian programming”
“In general, I found a good technique in all dancers but with some problems for the choreographers to conceptualize their ideas and decide what is relevant to put on a stage and communicate to an audience”
“I found it very interesting that all the artists have their roots in the (various) traditional dance. This is a wealth in my opinion. It brings nevertheless a large variety of expressions and thematic choices”
“For what I saw at the festival it seemed to me that the Indian contemporary dance community in Bangalore lives from a little energy source we cannot seem to be able to find in Europe. It is this energy that I think can make a difference if well directed, if we let ourselves get contaminated by what the younger generations absorb with very good relations abroad and, if given the opportunity and support, they will know how to enrich contemporary dance of their country without losing the strong influence of Indian classical dance”
“All performances were practically sold out, so I have the impression that there is a good dance audience, even if the festival is biennial and there’s not a regular dance program in the city. I find a big potential on this”
On the development of contemporary dance in India:
“It was a great pleasure to be back at Bangalore after so many years. In that moment I saw that there were only a few creators and the government had no interest in supporting them. They only supported people who wanted to show Indian classic dance in foreign countries. The reality seems different now: there is a well organized and better supported community and there are also great new creators who, at an individual level develop their own projects. Some have privileged contacts in other countries where they give training and present their ideas”
On the residency programme and other projects of Attakkalari:
“Regarding FACETS, I found the residencies very much oriented to the presentation, so although the pieces were not finished yet, the treatment was as they were. It probably made the process much more stressful for the artists, who were forced to take some decisions just because the frame of the presentation. The formats of the presentation of the work in progress might be more open, offering different options to the artists: talks, discussions, stage presentations… I also missed a talk with the audience after the presentations. I think it would be really interesting for the audience to hear from the artists about how they are working on the pieces, which could make them more aware that the pieces were in process”
“Outside the festival I got to know a project to all levels amazing. It’s an artistic residency programme developed by a young artist, Abhilash Ningappa, who by its means was able to build a fantastic space which can accommodate 15 people in a city area near the University. It is clearly an example of persistence and intelligence, which applied the knowledge gained outside adapting them to their reality in order to survive “outside the system””.
On the need for further exchange and the relevant of international connections:
“Most dancers and choreographers I met in Bangalore expressed their necessity for an exchange with professionals, not only in the studio (dramaturges, third eyes, composers, etc.) but also with other dance communities and professionals. Specially the younger choreographers who were in residency in Bangalore said that they would have wished to have more communication and exchange between the residents. Something like open rehearsals or common warm ups and sharing of classes and knowledge was not possible and this is something that would have been very important to them. I found them very curious and wanting to see more performances, meet more artists, get more information and artistic impulses”
“I can see so many possibilities and so much potential. A good relationship between artists seems to prevail. It is a fact also in India that financial means does bring opportunities for growth! Many of the creators we saw are creating despite conditions and despite a lack of continuous contact with a community”
“One of the highest improvement potential of the festival might be expanding the festival program beyond the shows: presentations of the international organizations invited, discussions, workshops for non-professionals…”
“I would suggest a way to make a pool of resources (and to map resources) to develop further collaborations with EDN and its members. It could be a starting point to create a network for transnational coproduction”
The Outreach India led to the implementation of a cooperation project between several dancehouses and India, Dance Connect.